Arlington Loses Lowest Unemployment Crown — Arlington’s years-long streak of having the lowest unemployment rate in Virginia has ended. In November Falls Church had the lowest jobless rate, at 3 percent, to 3.1 percent for Arlington. Statewide, Virginia’s unemployment rate fell from 4.8 percent in October to 4.5 percent in November. [InsideNova]
Arlington Man Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking — Arlington resident Anthony Tatum, 36, has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, money laundering and other related crimes, according to federal prosecutors.Tatum and a co-conspirator were accused of distributing cocaine and heroin, primarily in Maryland. Tatum, who agreed to forfeit $108 million in cash, vehicles, jewelry and other items, reportedly lived in a Pentagon City apartment building. [Patch]
Pinkberry to Close? — The future of Arlington’s Pinkberry frozen yogurt store is uncertain. The local Pinkberry franchisee has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. The franchisee, which has stores in D.C., National Harbor, Clarendon and elsewhere in Northern Virginia, cited debts of more than $1.2 million in the filing. Those debts include $44,121 in back taxes owed to Arlington County. [Washington Business Journal]
Wardian Sets New Record — Arlington resident Michael Wardian, 40, has set a new world record for the fastest indoor 50K. Wardian covered the distance in 3:06:07 at a 200-meter indoor track in Hagerstown, Md. That shatters his former world record, of 3:12:13, set at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center in Arlington. [Herald-Mail]
Arlington Native Releases Music Video — Arlington-born rapper C-Luv has released a new music video for his track “Grind.” The video features scenes shot around Arlington, including in a skatepark, Wakefield High School and in the Nauck neighborhood. [YouTube - NSFW]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Arlington TV, the county-run television channel, has released its annual year in review video.
This year’s video is titled “Prosperity Through Change.” It includes highlights such as the election of County Board member John Vihstadt, the launch of TandemNSI, the completion of the new Courthouse Road/Route 50 interchange, the opening of 400 new affordable housing units, the approval of major school renovations and the redesign of the county website, among other 2014 milestones.
“Through all this growth and change, we’ve maintained the very best characteristics of a small town,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette says in the video. “Our community is strong, diverse, caring and incredibly civic-minded. Together we will build a promising future for the generations of Arlingtonians who will follow us, and we will remain the place that other communities look to for inspiration.”
Fisette also talks about the surprise cancellation of the county’s streetcar project.
“It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make,” Fisette says. “It was a realization that the support that had existed when these plans were developed was no longer there, to the point where it was immobilizing and distracting our community.”
Clarendon resident, Arab-American comedian and minor internet celebrity Remy Munasifi has released a new music video.
In the video, Remy pokes fun at store-bought “white people humis” that lacks tahini, and cautions against dipping carrots and tortilla chips in hummus.
“Hummus is like Katniss, it needs pita,” Remy raps.
The video also features Remy’s mother, who dances in the background in several scenes.
Volunteers at the Knights of Columbus in Arlington (5115 Little Falls Road) prepared Thanksgiving dinners for more than 2,500 needy people on Thursday.
About 250 volunteers worked to make the turkey, stuffing and fixings, which was served at the Knights’ north Arlington facility and also delivered to older residents who couldn’t make the trip.
TV station WJLA (ABC 7) covered the preparations.
Board to Consider ‘Technology Zone’ Expansion — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved a motion to advertise changes to its program of giving tax breaks to small technology firms. Possible changes include expanding the “technology zones” in which businesses are eligible for the program to instead cover the entire county. The Board will vote on the changes in December. [Arlington County]
Werth Gnome Made of Cans at DCA — A huge Jayson Werth garden gnome sculpture made of cans is one such can creation on display at Reagan National Airport. Made for the annual “Canstruction” competition, which runs through Nov. 22, the sculptures will benefit the Arlington Food Assistance Center. [DCist]
Students Place First in Video Contest — Six Arlington Public Schools students have placed first in a state-wide video contest. They created a 30-second video for the annual Virginia School Boards Association competition. [Arlington Public Schools]
Shooting Suspect Arrested in Arlington — One of the two suspects in the shooting of two teenagers in Woodbridge was arrested Tuesday by Arlington County Police, following a traffic stop on N. George Mason Drive. [WNEW]
Columnist: Streetcar’s Death Will Widen Class Divisions — Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney opines that the decision to kill the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar system will “probably deepen” class and racial divisions in Arlington. “In effect, Arlington just told its least prosperous residents: ‘You want streetcars to upgrade your neighborhoods? Too expensive. Keep riding the bus.’” McCartney writes. [Washington Post]
Arlington County has released a new video with tips for keeping yourself and county workers safe on the roads.
The brief video (above) includes the following tips for driving in the vicinity of county work trucks.
1. Slow down around work zones and provide county vehicles and personnel additional space needed to safely operate
2. Stay out of truck blind spots, located between the doors and the rear of the vehicle
3. Do not pull in front of a truck when you need to stop or slow down
4. Be sure to signal your intentions and do not make moves abruptly
5. When parking, be sure to park as close to the curb as possible
6. Always be a PAL (predictable, alert and lawful) on the roads
The video encourages residents who have complaints about unsafe behavior on the part of county truck drivers to call Arlington’s risk management office at 703-228-4444.
The Arlington County detectives have solved and obtained a conviction in a decades-old rape case thanks to new DNA technology, according to a report by TV station WUSA9.
The crime happened in January 1992, when a 25-year-old grad student answered a knock at her door, in an Arlington apartment building. The man at the door, dressed as a maintenance worker, drew a gun and proceeded to rape her.
Veteran detectives Rosa Ortiz and Bob Icolari, who have been working to solve long-cold rape cases, resubmitted a small amount DNA evidence from the case to the state crime lab, which was able to find a match thanks to new technology. The suspect — Stevie Brinson, 55 — confessed and was sentenced to life in prison, WUSA reported.
WUSA9′s report (note: video automatically plays), after the jump.
We’re learning more about the two Arlington residents who died in a house fire in the Columbia Forest neighborhood early Tuesday morning.
According to Fox 5, Mary’s husband, Bill, managed to escape the blaze in nothing but his boxer shorts, then used a ladder to save his 11-year-old daughter, Sarah. He was unable to go back into the house due to the intensity of the flames.
Mary, meanwhile, was the first one out of the home, according to NBC 4. She ran back in the home to try to save Emily, but was overcome by fire and smoke. It took firefighters 15 minutes of fighting the flames before they were able to enter the home and find their bodies.
There were no working fire detectors in the home, according to an Arlington County Fire Department spokesman. The investigation into the cause is expected to take a number of weeks.
Arlington Spends More on Low-Income Students — Arlington Public Schools spend about $21,000 per pupil on low-income students, compared to the $12,000 it spends on more affluent students, according to data from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. [Greater Greater Washington]
Tornado Struck Alexandria Last Week — A weak EF-0 tornado struck part of Alexandria this past Wednesday. A Tornado Warning was issued for Arlington as the tornado tracked north. [National Weather Service]
Teachers Endorse Kanninen — The Arlington Education Association’s political action committee has endorsed Barbara Kanninen for School Board. The teachers group said “Barbara understands that all types of students need personal support and that teachers are important partners in making this happen.” Kanninen is running against Audrey Clement.
Arlington’s ‘Ten Commandments’ — A parody video showing “Arlington County Government’s Ten Commandments” has been created by someone calling themselves “Jim Taxpayer.” The video includes commandments like “With These Riches, Which Have Become Thine, Build A New Covenant, A Glorious Car of Street, Thy Chariot of Vanity.” [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Want a glimpse of how Arlington has changed over the past 65 years?
The video above, produced by VDOT, shows a drive across the Key Bridge and up Lee Highway in 1949, juxtaposed with the same drive in 2014.
You’ll notice the things that aren’t there any more: large billboards in Rosslyn, streetcar tracks, and a Gulf Oil gas station. You’ll also notice things that are still there — like the Lyon Village Apartments — and things that were yet to be built — like Rosslyn’s tall office buildings.
Arlington County’s Department of Parks and Recreation has released a video encouraging families to sign up children for activities, even if they are going through financial hardship.
“Don’t let fees be a barrier to signing up your child,” the video’s narrator says. “Arlington wants to ensure that every child has an opportunity to learn, grow and have fun all year round.”
The parks department offers families 50 percent off all parks and recreation programs if qualified for reduced-price lunches at Arlington Public Schools. If the family qualifies for free lunches in schools, it only has to pay 25 percent of the full fee to participate, according to Parks and Rec spokeswoman Susan Kalish.
“Individuals and families without children may also qualify for fee reductions or a temporary hardship fee reduction based on a variety of other documents (such as completed income taxes or proof of benefits such as WIC or SNAP),” Kalish said in an email. “Fee reduction level is based on household size and the total net income.”
Temporary hardships include a loss of a job or divorce, Kalish said, and residents hoping to apply for a reduced fee also need to provide proof. To apply, a resident can visit any community center with a photo ID and fill out the required forms. The county’s website provides a list of acceptable documents individuals and families can use to prove they qualify for reduced fees.
The program, which has been going on for “a number of years,” currently serves about 1,500 residents with reduced fees, Kalish said.
Theater critic Iain Armitage has never given a bad review. Even the shows that aren’t his favorites, he says he tries to focus on the “happy things” in the show.
Most would scoff at a critic who has never given a bad review, but Iain has an excuse: he’s only 6 years old, and he’s been taught it’s not nice to say mean things by his parents, Broadway star Euan Morton and theater producer Lee Armitage.
Iain started reviewing shows on Armitage’s YouTube channel five months ago, reviewing 21 different shows include “Phantom of the Opera” and “Pippin” — his two favorites so far — and, most recently, the Signature Theatre production of “Sundays in the Park with George.” That review has more than 16,000 views and got Iain enough attention to be featured on MTV.com.
It all started when Iain saw Hairspray at Signature and started talking about it. Lee filmed him with her smartphone, and the rest is history.
“I really don’t know why it’s gotten so popular,” Armitage said. “With all the videos, we would have friends in the shows and they’d watch them because he said funny things. We also did it to keep up with what shows he’s seen.”
Iain is homeschooled at the family’s home near Virginia Square, and also likes ice skating, dancing (there’s a video of a dance recital on the YouTube channel) and playing piano. Although being an elementary school-aged theater critic is a rarity, he wishes it were more common.
“I wish there were more little critics like me,” he told ARLnow.com in Ballston this morning with his mother. “Then we could be friends and see the same shows and get famous together.”
Iain said some of his favorite shows are the ones he can watch his father — who was nominated for a Tony award in 2004 for his portrayal of Boy George in “Taboo” — because he likes “the feeling when my dad’s on the stage. If I wave to him after the show, he’ll always wave back to me.”
Armitage said the Signature Theater is a big part of why Iain developed a love for musicals — Signature Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer is Iain’s godfather — and Iain said he wished “more kids in Arlington could see shows.” Iain also wishes he could see more shows. He said he “would like to see every show ever made,” and has gotten frustrated when his parents kept him out of productions that are inappropriate for 6 year-olds, like “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” a show about an East German transgender singer.
Iain said he’s “still mad” about not being able to see the show, but is enjoying the spoils of being a viral video star. He smiled and said “I like it” when he was asked about the trappings of fame, but couldn’t confirm he was practicing his autographs for future fans.
Metro’s Silver Line is set to officially open on Saturday, with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and other notable officials on hand to watch the first train depart the Wiehle-Reston East station.
The launch of the Silver Line has economic ramifications for Arlington, though there’s some debate over whether those ramifications will be mostly good or mostly bad.
On the pessimistic side, rail transit in Reston and Tysons could enhance the desirability of those areas and present Arlington with stiff competition, especially in the commercial office market.
On the optimistic side, the fact that the Silver Line will run through Arlington on the way to D.C. could actually make the county’s Orange/Silver corridor even more desirable as an economic hub. The video above makes the case that Ballston in particular is well-positioned to benefit from the Silver Line.
Publicly and privately, officials with Arlington Economic Development say they expect Tysons to take many years to develop as a truly desirable urban area, with walkable and active streets and ample housing. Even then, they believe Arlington’s multi-decade head start on transit-oriented development, and its proximity to D.C., will give the county the competitive edge over Tysons.
The videos are part of the county’s renewed effort to justify the massive streetcar investment to the public. The controversial project — which includes streetcar tracks in Crystal City and along Columbia Pike — is supported by County Board members Jay Fisette, Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada, but opposed by members Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt.
The four most recent videos include Tejada and housing advocate Holly Bray saying the streetcar will help preserve affordable housing on the Pike; planning commissioner Inta Malis saying the streetcar will reduce traffic congestion and benefit the environment; and real estate developer and former Arlington Chamber of Commerce Chair David DeCamp saying the streetcar will attract 6,600 new jobs and add $3-4 billion in new real estate value over 30 years.
Previous videos released by the county included the following titles: “Because more people will want to ride the streetcar;” “Because Metro was a success and streetcars will be, too;” “Because buses alone can’t carry enough people;” “Because streetcar improves connections;” and “Because it will broaden our tax base.”
The streetcar remains a source of controversy, with ardent advocates and detractors among local residents. The county plans to fund the streetcar system with federal, state and transportation-designated local funds, though Fisette recently asked county staff to come up with a way to pay for the streetcar without federal funding.
Are mom and dad heading out for dinner and leaving the kids at home?
The Arlington County Police Department has released a video with safety tips for children who are home alone. The tips include:
- Do not have friends over without an adult in the house to supervise.
- Keep your doors closed AND locked when you’re home alone.
- Do not open the door for anyone even if you know the person.
- Don’t answer the phone and never tell anyone you’re home alone.
- Make sure you have a trusted neighbor you can go to if you need help and a list of emergency phone numbers to call.
Those emergency numbers include 911 in an actual emergency, and the police non-emergency line (703-558-2222) for everything else, including reports of suspicious activity.